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KSR College Looks at the Effect of the “Charge Circle”

Tyler Zeller Falling


KSR College debuts on Monday, but until then the writers are still churning out good pieces. This look by Jonathan Schuette is an interesting overview of the effect of the Charge Circle on offensive output. IF the goal was to make scoring go down, then it has certainly done that. For more writing such as this, go to and support the kids.

As you may have noticed while watching College Basketball this season there is a strange painted arc underneath both baskets. These semi-circles are called “Charge Circles” and they were implemented to prevent the defender from blocking the basket when the offensive player has established position. To put it simply, if the defender is inside the arc and blocks the offensive player, it is an automatic block call. But this circle has caused a lot of uproar in the College Basketball world, mainly because it seems as though more charges are being called. The most incorrect calls seem to be coming from outside the charge circle. It almost seems to me that the referees assume that if an offensive player runs over a defender outside the charge circle, it must be a charge. So, I set out to statistically prove that the “Charge Circle” was actually hindering the progress of offense in College Basketball, rather than helping it.

As you will learn about me, I am a huge believer in the work of Basketball Statistician, Dean Oliver. He is the discoverer of the “Four Factors.” The Four Factors are Effective Field Goal Percentage (3-point shots are given 50% more credit than 2-point shots), Turnover Rate (Turnovers divided by Possessions), Offensive Rebound Rate (% of available Offensive rebounds obtained), and finally Free Throw Rate (Free throw attempts divided by shots attempted). If you can do three of those things well on both sides of the ball, chances are you’re a very good ball club. This is also the system Ken Pomeroy uses to come up with his ratings. Now, here’s how all of this relates to the Charge Circle.

According to Ken Pomeroy’s site,, there has been a decrease in many offensive categories from last season. Here are the data to prove the claim. (These data are the Division-1 average.)

(The charge is not an official statistic, so it’s not kept. I was forced to use different data.)

As you can see, four different categories of offense have been affected by this rule change. It should be noted that Adjusted Offensive Efficiency is not one of the Four Factors; it is the total combination of all Four Factors. It simply means how many points a team would score in 100 possessions against average competition. Now that that is out of the way let’s go into depth about the three affected “Four Factors.” Effective Field Goal Percentage has dropped slightly. To explain, teams are forced to take lower percentage shots farther away from the basket in fear of a taking charge call near the basket. Nationally, 3-point attempts have risen slightly from 32.9% to 33.0%, while 2-point field goal percentage has slightly dropped as well from 47.8% last season to 47.7% this season. This proves teams are starting to move away from the basket offensively. Turnover Rate is up as well this season; charges are considered turnovers so this increase is self-explanatory. Finally, the Free Throw Rate is down as a whole this season. This is also self-explanatory. If a team is committing more charges, they are not getting to the free throw line as often because the defense was given the benefit of the doubt.

So you may be asking yourself, “What can be done about this problem?” I think that the solution is easy to see. If the charge in question can be interpreted as a 50/50 call, the benefit of the doubt must be given to the offensive player. After all the Charge Circle was put into place to help the offensive player, so why isn’t it helping? I tend to think that referee incompetence is the source of this (See the “Blarge”). Which raises another question, why are referees never held accountable for their actions? But, that’s another article for another day. In conclusion, to make Collegiate Basketball a more offensive oriented game like the NBA it must be officiated like such. The “Surrender and Flop” or “Tyler Zeller” defense as I call it must be stopped; it’s starting to ruin the game. Viewing a charge as good defense should no longer be accepted; it should be viewed as surrender. If you take a charge you are surrendering, you’re no better than a smelly, cowardly Frenchmen. And honestly, who wants to be viewed as an awful Frenchmen?

Follow me on Twitter for more information like this @SchuetteKSR

Article written by Matt Jones

42 Comments for KSR College Looks at the Effect of the “Charge Circle”

  1. Mike
    1:39 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    seriously? you think a drop or increase of .1 percent is significant?

  2. Brother Michigan
    1:42 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    So I assume you’ve never heard of “margin of error” before?

  3. Jax Teller
    1:43 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Do you know where I could get some good beets? I’d also like Dwight to sign my bobblehead, let me know where I can send it.

  4. fan1
    1:47 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Matt, would be interesting to see your statistical analysis that proves the correlation between the charge circle ant the stats you quote and prove that it is not some other factor. The numbers don’t seem different enough to me to guarantee such a correlation, but I am sure your analysis might prove otherwise.

  5. Red Bird
    1:49 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Zeller pisses me off more than any college basketball player in history the way he falls down and flops.

  6. catfaninrockytop
    1:51 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I will possibly concede that the free throw stat could correalate with the charges, but the rest seems to be a huge reach, with a bit of rambling. Good intentions, but it was confusing at parts. I would suggest outlining it better cause it seemed to jump around a lot.

  7. GapToothDanny
    1:52 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    The charge circle was mis-named; it should be called the “flop-arc”.

  8. UKalum
    1:53 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    1 & 2 beat me too it

  9. UKalum
    1:53 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink


  10. Bob Dole
    1:54 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    You’d be better off showing the trends in the quoted categories over the past 10 years. If they consistently rose, then dropped, maybe some significant weight could be added to your argument. Otherwise, quoting a drop of .1% is rather insignificant, even without actual statistic signifcance testing.

    @4 – This isn’t Matt. I thought it was, too, but it’s actually one of the KSR College writers. Read the italicized portion.

  11. JoeDaddy
    1:58 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    95% of charge calls are not charge calls. Call them what they are. The FLOP! This year college basketball is turning out to be the year of the flop. The worst part of it is the refs are the only ones on the floor with a wistle. They are letting it happen. Basketball was ment to be played upright not lying on your a$$. Dribble, drive, flop. What a shame the flop has become most teams defensive strategy. It really takes away from the game. High schoolers are doing it too.

  12. rockatao
    2:00 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    If the defender is in the air, or stays on his feet when he establishes position on the ground, 99% of the time a block will be called. The only way the defender can hope to get a charge call is to flop.

    Soccer has the answer. If a defender flops without sufficient cause, give him a yellow card.

  13. catfaninrockytop
    2:01 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    While watching the Tennessee game I got to talking to another UK fan about that #11. When a charge was created, they were probably envisioning Terrence Jones plowing over a PG, not Teague shooting a layup over Jarnell Stokes. It has become a ridiculous call, and needs to be changed to if a should is dipped or a player is out of control.

  14. #CourierJournalDoesntExist
    2:02 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    listening to the podcast right now, and im pretty sure that Matt and everybody is completely flipflopped on the proununciation of Shabazz. 99% sure that it is actually Shabaaaaz, not Shabahhhhz

  15. PAK
    2:03 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I agree with #10 – show us the last several years and I might think there is something to your hypothesis – as of now – your conclusions are not backed by the data.

  16. Cat Fan
    2:05 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    JoeDaddy is 100 percent correct. 2012 will be remembered as the Flop. Some teams are getting really good at doing it too.

  17. Don
    2:12 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    First – the data points are not statistically significant. This is more likely normal variation.
    Second – correlation does not necessarily equal causation. More data and hypothesis testing would be needed to come to a conclusion.

    However, after watching college games this season, what bothers me is there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the charge/block call. I would bet if you interviewed 10 officials about what constitutes a charge or a block you would get 10 different answers.

    Solution: When and official thinks a charge or block has occurred play should be stopped. The two parties involved should be marched to center court and the head official would pull out a quarter and flip. Heads is a charge and tails is a block. On the side of the court would be a flip arrow to determine who gets to make the call. 🙂 This is a simple fair solution lol

  18. eleph
    2:12 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Yeah, this data proves nothing. To make this meaningful, you’d have to actually watch tape of games and see how many charges/blocks were called over a number of years. Is “offensive fouls” not a statistic available anywhere?

    Many, many factors can affect offensive production. More has changed in college basketball from last year to this one than just the charge circle.

    Correlation does not imply causation.

  19. The great bendali
    2:14 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    #10 and 15 hit the nail on the head. If your a big stat fan you should know statistics on two points is actually irrealitive. More points…… More significance. But you have to have at least 3….. 10 is better.

  20. Han
    2:15 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Want to know how to cut down on flopping?
    Make it a technical. If someone goes to the floor and the refs don’t think there was contact, they can go to the video the same as if it was a flagrant contact foul.

    2 shots and the ball, technical counts as personal.

  21. Raazoul
    2:16 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I agree that the referee’s have been awful this year. But if you think 95% are not charges, you just don’t know the rule. The player taking the charge, CAN MOVE. Has nothing to do with standing still. The defensive player has every right to a spot on the floor as the offensive player. The defender CAN move laterally, forward, or backward, as long as he establishes his position FIRST and has at least one foot on the ground. So if Teague is driving to the lane, and a defender slides in front of him, its a charge! As long as he beats Teague to the spot and establishes “guarding position”. And doesnt jump. EVERY PLAYER HAS A RIGHT TO ANY PARTICULAR SPOT ON THE FLOOR. IF EITHER PLAYER, DEFENSE OR OFFENSE, VIOLATES THAT SPACE, A BLOCK/CHARGE IS CALLED.

  22. swamp donkey
    2:17 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    just saw the previous post about Willis. I hope Drew’s comment obout getting our hopes up is that he will not go to UK. I have seen the kid play. I will pass. He will never see the floor. Cannot play D and he is slow.

  23. RicksAuntWithGoodEyes
    2:20 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Wow! Way to over think it. You just wrote all of that because of what, again? That chart has a bunch of #’s that look an awful lot alike to me. .1% difference in FG%? Really!? You should of wrote an article about this subject, and kept it real simple. I do believe the charge circle has taken away from the game, but not because of .1%. To me, the thing that really keeps the refs from making the right calls, is simply, there too busy paying attention to whether the defender actually gets his feet outside the arc to pay attention to the fact of his feet being set or not. Also, refs get caught up in the atmosphere of the game too much! If a team is on a run and the fans, the coaches and players all get caught up in the momentum, it seems like the refs do too. Like there a part of the show! Stop it, you damn refs

  24. Bledsoe's Biceps
    2:24 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Jonathan – You spent so much time on this and it was not needed. The answer is much simpler. It’s the Kentucky Effect. 🙂

  25. CatfaninNashvegas
    2:28 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Raazoul how do you define “establish position” if the defender can be moving?

  26. PK
    2:30 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    statistics do not actually “prove” anything. Statistical analysis, at its best, can explain the probability of an event/correlation/etc.

    Having said this, relating the incidence of charges to offensive efficiency is not being done in this analysis!!! regression analysis including charges as an independent variable would be a good start… then the more diffucult task of conrolling for exogenous variables. good greif…

  27. Go cats
    2:35 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I agree. I hate charges. Unless the defense is clearly established, it should be a block.

  28. LexDoc
    2:45 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    With this analysis, what is the 95% confidence interval? Because with a sample size of even 10,000, a difference of 0.1 isn’t going to be statistically significant.

  29. LexDoc
    2:56 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    21, you are partially correct. Once the defender is in a legal guarding position, he can move laterally or backwards. He CANNOT move towards the offensive player.

  30. turkeyblue
    3:06 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    21) & 29) So when an offensive player leaves his feet on a layup, and I am fast enough to slide to a spot underneath him and can lean side to side, etc., and he comes down on me, then that’s a charge? If so, I disagree. That’s not what the rule was intended to do, and players today can jump higher and float longer. Case in point was Teague’s charge call against Stokes the other day, or Lamb’s charge call against Zoeller at IU – both had left their feet and shot the ball – happen to come down on both of them. I think the offensive player has a right to land.

  31. ChicagoCat
    3:10 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I too had a theory a while ago that charges were being overcalled in close proximity to the charge arc, mainly because the Refs are confused on how to handle it. Your statistics however, as many have pointed out, prove nothing. They look like little more than standard deviations and the differences are too small to be taken seriously.

    I still agree that the arc could be the cause of overcalls on charging, but don’t forget that we as a fan base are seeing a lot more charges this year simply because this team drives a helluva lot more. All 6 of our starters (sixth man is a starter in my book) are capable of driving straight to the hoop, and they do it often. It’s no secret that some teams have figured out that it’s easy to draw charges against us. I haven’t watched a ton of CBB outside the Cats this year, but from what I’ve seen I haven’t noticed a significant increase in charge calls.

    It is a shame that charges aren’t a recorded stat, that would certainly make the analysis much easier and stronger.

  32. Old Guy in Lower Arena
    3:14 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    But if you took the square root of the angle…oh, never mind. My head hurts.

  33. Al's IndiCats
    3:15 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    I always thought that the defender had to establish his spot on the floor before the offence got there. If the guy’s in the air before the defender slides to that spot, it was concidered a block. Too many charts to read, too many opinions to care……I need a beer!

  34. stats
    3:16 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Field goal percentage tends to increase and turnovers tend to decrease over the course of a full season as teams improve. Sloppy play is often seen at the beginning of the year. In addition, cupcakes vs. power conference schools make up a lot non-conference play. When those schools get into conference play against like competition, FG% goes up and turnovers go down.

  35. LexDoc
    3:24 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    30, I completely agree. However, it seemed that John Wall was able exploit the ability of not being able to slide in time with his sheer quickness… No point being made with that, just an observation. I was a high school official in college and would hate hearing parents yell that “his feet were moving” as an argument. While that may be true, by the books, he can still draw a charge.

  36. jacocat
    3:30 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    They made that rule for the Dukies. Everybody knows they are the best at flopping.

  37. KSRgraduateschool
    3:31 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    Comparing 1/2 of a season to merely one year previous “proves” nothing. The insignificant drops could be part of a larger trend in basketball as a whole. Without a larger sample size and more historical data, these stats mean little. The perspective of time has been overlooked in this post.

  38. JBedell
    4:01 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    21, 29: Mostly right, but not quite there… The defender has to have both feet in contact with the ground, not just 1. Also, the defender has to have established that position (by having both feet in contact with the ground) before the offensive player leaves the floor. You cannot “slide in” after the offensive player has left the floor.


    Section 35. Guarding (select Articles)

    Art. 4. To establish an initial legal guarding position on the player with the ball:
    a. The guard shall have both feet touching the playing court. When the guard jumps into position initially, both feet must return to the playing court after the jump, for the guard to attain a legal guarding position.
    b. The guard’s torso shall face the opponent.
    c. No time and distance shall be required.
    d. When the opponent with the ball is airborne, the guard shall have attained legal guarding position before the opponent left the playing court. (Exception: Rule 4-35.7)

    Art. 7. A secondary defender cannot establish initial legal guarding position in the Restricted Area for the purposes of drawing a player control foul/charge on a player who is in control of the ball (i.e., dribbling or shooting) or who has released the ball for a pass or try for goal. When illegal contact occurs within this Restricted Area, such contact shall be called a blocking foul, unless the contact is flagrant. (Exception: When the offensive player leads with a foot or unnatural extended knee or wards off with the arm.)

    (sorry for posting these again 😉

  39. Raazoul
    4:01 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    25 – I’m just reading what the rule says. What it it means is that your “position” is that spot on the court. You can be moving from one spot to another (like right in front of the player with the ball) and as long as you get there before the player with the ball its a charge. If he beats you to that spot and you run into him, its a block. If you beat him there, and are on the ground, its a charge. When a guy slides under Teague for a charge, it’s a block (or should be). Because Teague got to that spot first. If the guy is set for a charge, and in the air Teague leans to the left, the defender can also lean to the left, if he gets there before Teague its a charge.

  40. Raazoul
    4:04 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    38, Says nothing about not “Sliding” in. It says if your feet touch the floor, and your facing the player with the ball, its a charge. You can be set in one spot, then slide to the left or right if need be, as long as your feet remain on the floor and you get there before the defender.

  41. TheDude73
    10:15 pm January 20, 2012 Permalink

    This is a joke. An attorney (from Duke, of all places) is publishing a statistical analysis? Not to mention, the “correlation” is ridiculous. There is no proof that a drop in overall college offensive output year over year is directly related to the charge circle. Additionally, the offensive numbers you posted in your table from 2010 and 2011 are STATISTICALLY EQUIVALENT (I’d explain how to calculate this, Matt, but it would likely make your legalese head explode…and, you likely don’t have the proper software to do the analysis). And, as other comments state, you’re using 60% of a season’s worth of statistics from 2011 to compare back to an already-completed 2010 season’s worth of stats. At the end of this season when the sample sizes are equal, the numbers could be identical or even better, and then where will your absurd analysis stand? Attorneys, continue with your wordsmithing and verbal arguments in court, and leave the math to the engineers and mathematicians at statisticians, please.

  42. TheNappyBoy
    12:51 am January 21, 2012 Permalink

    Jonathan, You’re in college right? Take Stats 291 and learn how to run a test for statistical significance.